After a pretty poor result against Bolton on Saturday backing up a loss to Stoke the previous Monday, Villa fans are looking forward to seeing the tactics Gerard Houllier employs in his first games in charge. The Frenchman along with his new assistant Gary McAllister took their first training session today and a string of first team player’s have backed the new manager to lead them to glory in the future.
The likes of Ashley Young, Stewart Downing, Stephen Ireland and today, Brad Friedel have all been vocal in their excitement about the new appointment. Such statements could be expected of any team under a new regime but it was clear that many of the team would have liked to see Kevin MacDonald get the full time job. The celebration of Ashley Young’s goal at the weekend only went to confirm the players’ respect for the caretaker and Gabby Agbonlahor revealed that he had enjoyed working under the Scot.
Injury news ahead of Wednesday night’s Carling Cup game with Blackburn, Houllier’s first in charge, sees Richard Dunne doubtful due to a leg injury. MacDonald said that the centre back had picked up the knock against Stoke and did well to start against Bolton, despite being substituted at half time. This news means that Carlos Cuellar may get a whole game to prove himself in his favoured centre half position alongside James Collins. Stewart Downing is likely to recover from a gashed shin sustained in Saturday’s game but may not be risked. This could mean that Ashley Young will revert to his familiar left wing role with Albrighton on the opposite flank which should give Villa a good balance in midfield.
Finally after Houllier revealed that he had sustained an interest in Michael Owen since managing him at Liverpool, Sir Alex Ferguson was quick to quash rumours of a move. The striker is reportedly growing increasingly frustrated on the subs bench at Old Trafford after a magnificent return to form from Dimitar Berbatov. Villa were linked with the crocked ex-England international before he joined United and a deal may well have benefitted both parties but Ferguson took it out of the players hands stating that he would get enough games at Man Utd this season. Whether manager and player see eye-to-eye on what they deem to be ‘enough games’ may be a different manager but I would be keen on going eye-to-eye with the Scot so Owen may have to like it or lump it!
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